On the evening of 24 March at approximately 18:30 one could hear the hustle and bustle of 57 exited kids near the Smuts house in Irene. For the outsider it probably would have looked like total chaos, but for the SOAPkidz CREW it was merely organized chaos. The kids came from 3 different childrenís homes and were quickly divided into 8 groups.
The plan of action was to stay awake all night for an adventure of some sort. The SOAPkidz CREW had no idea what was in store for them. The only thing they were told is to bring a sense of humour, enough water for 11hours and comfortable walking shoes. The Scouts who organized the event were very mysterious about the whole event. They just told us that the volunteerís job was to keep the morals up and keep the kids motivated (Not everybodyís cup of tea, considering you has to do bundu-bashing on foot for 11 hours in the darkness with the possibility of rain as well.). It was like being in the army again. The same old hurry up and wait story. But alas the group got their first envelope which proved to be one of several clues they had to un raffle. First of all they learned that Highland Barnesís daughter had been capture by an international terrorist group. The terrorists kidnapped her and smuggled her into South Africa and according to Satellite photoís they were hiding her in the area.
The kids had to go to a certain point of rendezvous for the next clue. But the warning to be quiet because of the danger of terrorists groups training in the area was forgotten as soon as they jumped on the roof of the awaiting 4x4. Their loud chattering and laughter echoed through the night. They were dropped near an old factory and had to walk in a certain direction until the get to and old fort. Here the boys took over because they had to find a bomb in the walls in the old fort. The girls were just too happy to wait outside. Once they got the bomb safely secured the got their next envelope which told them to go for 600m in a northerly direction.
Due to the exhilaration they totally forgot to measure the distance and realised only after an hour that they had walked quite a bit more that 600m. By the time they rectified their mistake it was already just after midnight when they reached base2. Here the 2 small boys and a few girlsí hearts skipped a few beats. They had to abseil down a steep quarry in order to bomb out the terrorists.
But once down safely again on mother earth they babbled non stop. All the previous signs of tiredness just vanished into thin air. The next decisive clue was to walk 339degrees north. Out of the blue the kids just started running. They smelled food. At the next base they had to make their own food. Not even the boys were complaining. All helped with great passion to get their tummies filled. After they all had hotdogs they had to go to the next clue. This clue was a word game. Some clues were given to find a specific word. After the got the word they had to find the symbol on a wall. The next clue was to go back to base camp. But still the group didnít forget what SOAPkidz is all about.
On the way back they picked up garbage. Here they had another trip with the 4x4 but with everybody inside. This time they didnít moan when all had to sit inside, as it started raining. Though it was not a cosy ride, but with 8 kids and 3 adults squashed into one Landrover what can you expect? At this base they had to help a computer expert to make ID tags for the next base. They had to punch in lengthy codes into a computer to get the password to get the right access code for the next base. But with the electronic age of today they went all the way through it like a breeze. The group there and then decided that the fun was over for the night as it was still raining cats and dogs outside.
They were one of the lucky groups. This base was situated in a hall with chairs. A few just passed out on the chairs due to utter exhaustion. Only a few stayed up until 07:30 the morning when their busses came to take them back to their respective homes.
The other not so lucky groups had to struggle trough wind and rain and bushes to get to their next bases. In the end there were only one group who successfully un raffled all the clues and got to all the bases, but in the end all in vain. Whether the kidnappers got sniff in the nose, an fled or Highland Barnesís daughter escaped on her own they will never know.
Once they got to the final base of rendezvous, all they got were two ropes and few empty cups of coffee and chips papers, which they picked up because that is what SOAPkidz do. They clean up the mess.07:30: it was a cold Saturday morning with still a light drizzle. The end was in sight, 57 exhausted kids showed all the signs of fatigue. They were sleep walking but still had the energy to give out hugs to volunteers before they returned to their busses Here and there you still could see smiling faces turning back and waving their goodbyes.
Another successful event finished and another group (the Scouts) who will look differently in the future to the abused and orphaned kidz.